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Obama Allows Dirty, Dangerous Keystone Tar Sands Pipeline to Move Forward
WASHINGTON - March 1 - The Obama administration today took the next step toward approval of the 1,700-mile Keystone XL pipeline, despite the heavy toll the pipeline and its oil will take on the climate crisis, wildlife and the environment. Some 50,000 people protested outside the White House last month in opposition to the pipeline. Today’s announcement came in the form of a supplemental environmental impact statement on Keystone XL.
“If President Obama is serious about confronting the deepening climate crisis, he needs to take Keystone XL off the table,” said Bill Snape of the Center for Biological Diversity. “There’s simply no way to be in favor of this dirty, dangerous project and still think we’re going to avert climate catastrophe.”
The proposed Keystone XL pipeline would, every day, carry up to 35 million gallons of oil strip-mined from Canada’s “tar sands” – some of the dirtiest fuels on the planet. The pipeline would cross the heart of the Midwest and deliver oil to the Gulf of Mexico, where most of it would exported to other countries. Along the way, the pipeline would cut through rivers, streams and prime wildlife habitat, including habitat for at least 20 imperiled species such as the whooping crane and pallid sturgeon.
Strip mining of oil from Alberta’s tar sands is also destroying tens of thousands of acres of boreal forest and polluting hundreds of millions of gallons of water from the Athabasca River, in the process creating toxic ponds so large they can be seen from space.
Extraction and refinement of tar-sands oil produces two to three times more greenhouse gases per barrel than conventional oil and represents a massive new source of fossil fuels that leading climate scientist Dr. James Hansen has called “game over” for our ability to avoid a climate catastrophe.
TransCanada’s existing Keystone I tar sands pipeline has reportedly leaked 14 times since it went into operation in June 2010, including one spill of 24,000 gallons. The State Department’s environmental reviews have pointed out that spills from Keystone XL are likely to occur, estimating that there could be as many as about 100 spills over the course of the pipeline’s lifespan.
“Oil spills, environmental damage, wildlife put in harm’s way, a doubling-down on the climate crisis: It’s hard to understand why the Obama government is even considering this project,” said Snape.